From electrons to infrastructure: Engineering concrete from the bottom up

Hamlin M. Jenningsa, Jeffrey W. Bullardb
Cement and Concrete Research, Volume 41, Issue 7, July 2011


An approach rooted in fundamental, mechanistic models of concrete materials offers the only viable path for handling the enormous number of variables that are being introduced as new materials are added to the design space, and as new properties are mandated for a sustainable infrastructure. These models must begin at the smallest length scales relevant for concrete properties; in some cases this is the scale of electron interactions among atoms and ions. But concrete has complex chemical and structural properties that are manifested at greater length and time scales, so atomic scale models must ultimately be integrated with new models that capture behavior at mesoscopic and macroscopic scales. We refer to this methodology as the “bottom-up” approach because it proceeds from the smallest length scales. We describe this kind of modeling approach, include some recent results, and suggest some principles for collaboratively integrating multi-scale models.

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